Most Uber and Lyft drivers are struggling to make the minimum wage while driving, with the median earning sitting as low as $3.37 an hour.
According to a study published by MIT, 74% of Uber drivers make less than the minimum wage of their state - which varies from $7.85 (£5.68) in Missouri to $15 (10.86) in some regions of California. Some drivers (30%) are actually losing money once they account for vehicle expenses.
The study revealed that about half of the median earnings of a driver ($0.59 per mile) is consumed by vehicle operating expenses ($0.29 per mile). More than 1100 drivers were surveyed for the study.
Over a month, Uber drivers earned a mean profit of $661 (£478). Of their related expenses, 40% is considered fuel, another 40% is attributed to insurance, maintenance and repairs and the final 20% is depreciation.
Speaking to The Guardian, an Uber spokesperson criticised the findings. "While the paper is certainly attention grabbing, it's methodology and findings are deeply flawed," the spokesperson said. "We've reached out to the paper's authors to share our concerns and suggest ways we might work together to refine their approach."
A spokesperson for Lyft was also skeptical: "We have not yet reviewed this study in detail, but an initial review shows some questionable assumptions."
Not all Uber drivers are earning bad money though, especially if you are taking patrons on a 300-mile trip. On Friday (2 March), US resident Kenny Bachman ordered an Uber in West Virginia and passed out drunk in the back seat. When he awoke, two hours later, he realised the Uber driver was taking him "home" to his registered address in New Jersey.
It cost Bachman $1,635.93 (£1,184.86) for the trip. "I'm thinking, 'why the f*** am I in the car next to some random ass dude I don't even know?'," Bachman said. "What am I just going to get dropped off on the side of the road?"
In his drunken state, Bachman even ordered an Uber XL instead of an Uber X, costing him twice the amount. If he had ordered an Uber X, he could have paid just $819.14 (£593.28). He contested the fare with Uber but was ultimately unsuccessful.